[Federal Register: July 20, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 138)]
[Page 43428-43429]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of the Draft Comprehensive Conservation 
Plan and Environmental Assessment for Fish Springs National Wildlife 
Refuge, Dugway, UT

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces that 
the Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Assessment 
(CCP/EA) for the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is 
available for public review and comment. This Draft CCP/EA was prepared 
pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as 
amended, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft 
CCP/EA describes the Service's proposal for management of the Refuge 
for 15 years.

DATES: Written comments must be received at the postal or electronic 
addresses listed below by August 18, 2004. Comments may also be 
submitted VIA electronic mail to: toni_griffin@fws.gov.

ADDRESSES: To provide written comments or to obtain a copy of the Draft 
CCP/EA, please write to Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 
80225-0486; (303) 236-4378; fax (303) 236-4792 or Jay Banta, Refuge 
Manager, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 568, Dugway, 
Utah 84022; (435) 831-5353; fax (435) 831-5354. The Draft CCP/EA will 
also be available for viewing and downloading online at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/planning

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader at 
the above address or at (303) 236-4378.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The National Wildlife System Administration 
Act of 1966, as amended by the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act 
of 1997 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee et seq.), requires the Service to 
develop a CCP for the Refuge. The purpose in developing a CCP is to 
provide refuge managers with a 15-year

[[Page 43429]]

strategy for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the 
mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consistent with sound 
principles of fish and wildlife science, conservation, legal mandates, 
and Service policies. In addition to outlining broad management 
direction on conserving wildlife and their habitats, the CCP identifies 
wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities available to the public, 
including opportunities for hunting, wildlife observation and 
photography, and environmental education and interpretation. We will 
review and update these CCPs at least every 15 years in accordance with 
the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as 
amended by the National Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, and the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d).
    Background: Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge was established 
under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act (MBCA) by the Migratory Bird 
Conservation Commission. The stated purpose is ``* * * for use as an 
inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory 
birds.'' 16 U.S.C. 715d (Migratory Bird Act)
    Significant issues addressed in the Draft CCP/EA include: habitat 
and wildlife management, ecological integrity, visitor services, 
cultural resources, and partnerships. The Service developed three 
alternatives for management of the Refuge: Alternative A--No Action; 
Alternative B--Restoration; Alternative C--Enhanced Habitat Management 
and Public Use. All three alternatives outline specific management 
objectives and strategies related to wildlife and habitat management, 
ecological integrity, visitor services, cultural resources, and 
    Alternative A--No Action (Current Management) focuses on managing 
water in nine marsh units to meet the life cycle needs of waterfowl, 
shorebirds, and water birds. The marsh units are currently rotated 
through a 5-year drawdown schedule according to the Marsh Management 
Plan approved in 1991. In addition, the units drawn down each year are 
burned according to a prescribed fire plan approved in August 2002. 
Visitation to Fish Springs currently ranges between 2000 and 3100 
visitors each year. Up to 40 percent of the Refuge is open for duck and 
coot hunting each year. Waterfowl hunting remains the greatest 
recreational interest. Continuing to provide educational and 
interpretive opportunities for visitors will enhance understanding and 
appreciation of the wildlife and cultural resources represented on the 
Refuge. Efforts to inventory and analyze unmapped cultural resource 
sites and fully understand known sites will continue. Continuing to 
foster and increase opportunities for participation in conservation 
initiatives, such as the Eastern Bonneville partnership, will help the 
Refuge maximize its contribution to natural resource conservation.
    Alternative B--Restoration, will restore, maintain and enhance the 
Refuge's original hydrological system and high-desert shrubland habitat 
to a condition resembling their historic nature prior to Refuge 
development. Marsh restoration will ensure that habitat that is 
critical to maintain the flora and fauna that historically inhabited 
the Refuge is provided. Marsh restoration will call for the removal of 
all dikes and water control structures. High-desert shrubland will be 
restored to its historic native composition benefiting those species 
dependent on this habitat type, such as kit fox, Bonneville pocket 
gopher, loggerhead shrike, black-throated sparrow, and neotropical 
migrants. Visitor services will change slightly under the restoration 
alternative, with more emphasis placed on non-consumptive uses, such as 
environmental education, interpretation, wildlife observation and 
photography. The shift in visitor services is due mainly to the removal 
of water control structures (i.e. dikes and roads) which will limit 
vehicle access. The current hunting program will continue with the 
addition of a goose hunt. Access to hunting areas will be provided via 
boat and/or foot passage, promoting a remote hunting experience. 
Restoration and subsequent monitoring of the marsh ecosystem will 
provide expanded opportunities for interpretation and environmental 
    Alternative C--Enhanced Habitat Management and Visitor Services, 
the Service's Proposed Action, emphasizes the utilization of Fish 
Springs NWR by a diversity of migratory birds. Marshes will continue to 
be managed for waterfowl, shorebirds, and water birds. Current marsh 
water management will continue, with few minor modifications to improve 
foraging and nesting habitat for shorebirds and water birds. High-
desert shrublands will be restored to historic native composition, 
thereby benefiting those species dependent on this habitat type, such 
as kit fox, Bonneville pocket gopher, loggerhead shrike, black-throated 
sparrow, and neotropical migrants. One of the five major thermal 
springs that arise from a fault line at the base of the east slope of 
the Fish Springs Range will be restored to its historic natural 
condition providing habitat that is critical to maintain the flora and 
fauna that historically inhabited the Refuge. Restoration and 
subsequent monitoring of the marsh ecosystem will provide expanded 
opportunities for interpretation and environmental education. Increased 
efforts in visitor services and the addition of a goose hunt to the 
current hunting program will attract more visitors to the Refuge. The 
Refuge will maintain an auto-tour route which traverses a cross section 
of the habitats and provides opportunity for wildlife viewing and 
photography. The construction of an interpretive boardwalk and an 
observation platform will further enhance wildlife viewing and 
    The review and comment period is 30 calendar days commencing with 
publication of this Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. 
After the review and comment period for this Draft CCP/EA, all comments 
will be analyzed and considered by the Service. All comments received 
from individuals on the Environmental Assessment become part of the 
official public record. Requests for such comments will be handled in 
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Council on 
Environmental Quality's NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1506.6(f)) and other 
Service and Departmental policies and procedures.

    Dated: July 14, 2004.
John A. Blankenship,
Deputy Regional Director, Region 6.
[FR Doc. 04-16409 Filed 7-19-04; 8:45 am]